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Addressable Health 2.0 market opportunities

Last week was an interesting one in Health 2.0, most notably for the disagreement on the direction of Health 2.0 that turned personal between Matthew Holt and Dmitriy Kruglyak.

Also, Fard Johnmar summed up nicely the potential steps going forward where the empowering/ democratizing models of health 2.0 meet real profit-sustaining enterprise.

    –Medical Decisions: This includes decisions about what medications physicians should prescribe and how to manage end of life care cost effectively.

    –Information Sharing: Providing valuable health data and education to consumers, providers, payers and others.

    –Medical Technology: Tools that help prolong lives, reduce administrative costs and meet emerging health needs.

    –Funding: Ensuring scarce health resources are allocated effectively and finding ways to stop breaking the health care budget.

To be successful, Health 2.0 companies must find clear ways to demonstrate to established health industry players that they can make a real impact on the four major problems I outlined above.  In the long run impact, not advertising dollars will determine company survival.

Its a good first step to defining where we as a community see the opportunities that will generate new businesses in health 2.0 and beyond.  The nice thing about highlighting opportunities is that as long as the basic needs are not well met, we will continue to see innovation that creates value every time these elements are addressed.  I would classify the opportunities a little differently than Fard, as follows:

  • Consumer decisions: Layperson-level decision support and information/metrics that helps consumers make decisions around everyday health, who to see when they need professional help, and navigation of options where next steps are not straightforward (ie end of life, experimental treatment pathways)
  • Provider decisions: Both qualitative and quantitative decision support tools that help providers deploy optimal treatments for their patients.  This could include peer to peer support, statistics and outcome projections, treatment comparisons, etc.
  • Care coordination: Information flows, data presentation, statistics, and oversight to coordinate care and highlight personalized priorities/highest impact activities
  • Therapeutic advances: Technological advances that allow for better treatment of specific issues
  • Finance: Reducing transactional expenses in the system, including billing, coding, underwriting, collections, overhead, etc.  This may include re-alignment of incentives, change in stakeholder payment structures/roles, business models, etc.

Where I disagree with Fard is that Health 2.0 companies need to prove impact to existing health industry players.  Instead, companies need to be able to pair traction against one of these issues with a business model that someone is willing to pay for (including advertisers).  The value chains created in the transition between wholesale. top-down manufacturing approaches and bottom-up consumer driven retail platforms will likely be a work in progress…and health 2.0 platforms looking to maximize their impact will likely need to create a new health systems infrastrucure.

The value of centering the system around consumers, as 2.0 technology does, will be reflected in new metrics to measure progress, likely:

    * Cost-value trade-offs vs. approved/not approved    * Forward-looking individualized projections vs. standardized clinical trial results    * Chief Complaint addressed vs. Review of Systems billed    * Relationship vs. Volume

Vijay Goel is a doctor and former McKinsey & Co. consultant based in Los Angeles. He blogs regularly at Consumer-focused Healthcare.

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